Catawba Valley Ale Trail launches digital passport using LoyalBrew

We are excited to announce the launch of the Catawba Valley Ale Trail on LoyalBrew!

The Catawba Valley is located in Western North Carolina just east of Asheville. The Ale Trail consists of 14 breweries. We spoke with Ed Phillips and Katherine Christie of the Burke County Tourism Development Authority about the Catawba Valley and the Ale Trail.

How did the Catawba Valley Ale Trail come together?

The Catawba Valley Ale Trail was a hope for some time. We have a fantastic craft beer culture in the Catawba Valley Region which we had been promoting for a number of years as individual cities. It wasn’t until the pandemic that we decided to pursue the trail as a collaboration between multiple destinations in order to strengthen our region as a whole. We felt the Catawba River Valley was really what connected many breweries in the region as it is one of the primary water sources as well as a cornerstone of activity in the area. Through the river valley we were able to narrow the location of the trail down to a 4 county area and 14 breweries that are all unique in their own way but also contribute to the makeup of this area.

What can’t-miss places do you recommend visiting while exploring the Catawba Valley Ale Trail?

All of the breweries on the ale trail are unique in their own way. They are all located in old buildings that have interesting pasts and they leverage that in a way that makes them unique. By embracing history and building upon it through beer names, decorations and overall themes they truly create one of a kind experiences. Granite Falls Brewery is located in an old bottling plant, Fonts Flora at Whippoorwill is at an old dairy farm, Mica Town’s Nebo location is a former gas station, and Hillman Beer and Blowing Rock Brewery are located in old factories. As this area, and the industry here, has changed over the years, each city has made a point to embrace where they came from which shines through in their breweries. Mixed in with the old buildings you will also find a love of nature and dedication to the environment here, we hope that between your stops on the Ale Trail you also take time to go on some hikes, visit our lakes and discover our outdoor resources as well.

We hear that the area is known for UFO sightings. What’s the story there?

In the middle of the Ale Trail, just north of Morganton, you will find an overlook pointed towards Brown Mountain. There have been sightings of mysterious lights referred to as the Brown Mountain Lights, that hover on the ridge line of Brown Mountain. They are most easily seen in the fall and winter when there aren’t as many leaves on the trees, but people have observed them throughout the year. It is not known what causes the lights, some say it is UFOs or aliens while others believe they are spirits of Native Americans or old Gold Miners still searching the woods. Many scientists, supernaturalists and hobbyists have researched the lights and spent many nights watching them and it is still not known what causes them.

The Catawba Valley Ale Trail is using LoyalBrew to launch your passport program. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

We hope to draw in craft beer enthusiasts to our area in order to share our fantastic beverages, friendly people and gorgeous landscapes to those who have never been or haven’t explored our area to its fullest. We also want locals who haven’t visited our neighboring communities to experience the unique breweries that are within short drives that they may not have known are there. We also see this as an opportunity to connect our region through shared culture and craft beverages.

If you already have a LoyalBrew account, all you need to do is login at to begin claiming stamps on the Catawba Valley Ale Trail.